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EC News Asia Edition (7th February 2019)

Round-up of the latest news and developments from the Asian insurance market with stories from Willis Re, BGC Partners, Aviva and more.

Willis Re strengthens Australia leadership team

Willis Re has announced a number of leadership changes within its Australian team to drive its next phase of growth.

John Philipsz has been appointed deputy CEO of Willis Re Australia. Based in Sydney, Philipsz will drive the development of Willis Re’s reinsurance brokerage and advisory business in Australia.

Prior to joining Willis Re, Philipsz worked in Willis Towers Watson Securities. He was based in London before launching its Sydney office in 2015 and was appointed as its co-head of Asia Pacific in 2016. With over 20 years of investment banking experience, primarily covering the insurance sector, he has held a variety of roles at Merrill Lynch and Bank of America in London, New York and Tokyo.

Karl Jones, head of catastrophe analytics for Willis Re International will relocate from London to Sydney in the first quarter of 2019, but will continue in his global role. Jones is well known to the Australian market having previously been based in Sydney with Willis Re until 2015.

Head of broking for Willis Re Australia, Warren Dresner, will relocate to Miami as a senior member of Willis Re’s Latin American business with the change planned to take place in the third quarter of 2019.

Cameron Green, CEO of Willis Re Australia, said: “In recent years, the role of the reinsurance broker has evolved. Willis Re in Australia and throughout the world has been at the forefront of driving innovation in its service offering, to deliver meaningful value and insight for its clients. The addition of John and Karl to the Willis Re team in Australia will strengthen our operations in the Australian market to drive our next phase of growth.”

Mark Morley, head of Willis Re, Asia Pacific, added: “Both John and Karl will also be part of the regional team and be involved in various initiatives to expand and grow our business in the Asia Pacific region. These appointments are testament to the collaborative way in which Willis Re works globally, and the continued investment in our business demonstrates our ongoing commitment to support the future needs of our clients.”

BGC Partners completes Ed acquisition

BGC Partners has completed the acquisition of London-based reinsurance, wholesale and specialty broker Ed, three-months after the deal was first announced.

The deal sees an expansion of BGC’s insurance division which was established last year after it acquired Besso Insurance Group Limited, a Lloyd’s of London broker with operations in the UK, Brazil and Dubai.

Ed will become part of BGC’s insurance division while Steve Hearn, currently Group CEO of Ed, will become head of BGC’s insurance division.

Hearn will report directly to Shaun Lynn, president of BGC Partners.

With the addition of Ed’s brokers and back office personnel, Ed and Besso are expected to place roughly $2bn of premium in 2018, and have approximately 300 combined brokers that operate across 10 countries.

“We are delighted to complete the purchase of Ed, a company with a great reputation, a global footprint and an excellent management team that will continue to build on BGC’s success in growing the insurance brokerage business,” said Lynn.

Aviva board member will move to Bupa

Aviva’s non-executive director Michael Hawker will retire from the board at the end of March to serve in the same capacity at Bupa.

The departure means Hawker will also be leaving Aviva’s audit and nomination committees where he is a member, as well as the risk committee which he chairs.

Hawker’s replacement for the risk committee is now being identified, in what Aviva described as a “well-advanced” succession planning process.

Meanwhile at Bupa where his non-executive director appointment takes effect on 1 April, Hawker will also be joining the boards of the company’s key subsidiaries in Australia.

Aviva executive chair Sir Adrian Montague commented: “I would like to thank Michael for his enormous contribution to Aviva over the past nine years,”

“He has brought to the board a wealth of knowledge and experience gained over a long career in the banking and insurance industries in both executive and non-executive roles in Europe, Asia, and Australia, and has been a distinguished chairman of the risk committee.”

Bupa chairman Roger Davis commented: “We are delighted to welcome Michael to the board and look forward to working with him,”

“He brings valuable experience of financial services from across the world, particularly in Australia, Bupa’s largest market.”

RFIB appoints Stephen Warwick as CEO of reinsurance, Asia Pacific

RFIB has appointed Stephen Warwick as CEO of reinsurance, Asia Pacific, effective 1 February 2019.

Warwick will be based in Hong Kong where he will create a new RFIB office, subject to relevant regulatory approval.

He will report to Kevin Stratton, managing director of the broker’s Specialty division.

Warwick brings over 35 years of industry experience to the role. He started his career with Aon in 1980, where he held a number of senior positions. In 2016, he left Aon Benfield, the reinsurance arm of Aon, to become the co-founder of Hong Kong-based reinsurer, Nine Merchants Re.

Speaking of the appointment Stratton said: “We are delighted to welcome Steve to RFIB. Steve’s wealth of knowledge and experience in the global market and APAC region is a great strategic fit for RFIB’s international growth plans in reinsurance."

Group CEO Steven Beard added: “Warwick’s appointment follows a strategic review of the region and seeing through on a commitment to building the leading independent broker in the fastest growing region in the world. I look forward to working with Steve and to him playing a pivotal role as part of our global leadership team.”

Dennis Mahoney, executive chairman of RFIB, commented: “Having worked with Steve in the past I’m delighted to welcome him to the Risk Transfer Group. Globally recognised talent such as Steve continues our firm’s strategy of attracting the very best in the business. This appointment follows recent senior Group hires including Craig Douglas, Simon McCrum, Elizabeth Jenkin, Kevin Stratton and Duncan Urquhart.”

Tokio Marine Life Singapore appoints new CEO

Tokio Marine Life Insurance Singapore (TMLS) has named Christopher Teo Sze Teck as CEO, succeeding James Tan who resigned in December 2018.

Teo has nearly 27 years of experience in the insurance and banking industry, most recently serving as senior vice president of business development of NTUC Income Insurance Co-Operative. Before this he was CEO and a board member of Professional Investment Advisory Services Pte Ltd.

Throughout his career Teo has held leadership positions in Singapore and Asia including chief executive and general director of Vietinbank-Aviva Life Insurance Company in Vietnam, as well as being alternate principal officer and chief operations officer of Manulife Singapore and president and chief executive of Manulife Thailand.

Commenting on the appointment Tan Cheng Han, chairman of TMLS said: “With his rich and diverse experience, we are confident that Teo will provide the strategic leadership to steer TMLS to continued growth.”

RMS names executive vice president of product

Catastrophe modelling firm RMS has appointed Cihan Biyikoglu as executive vice president of product.

In his new role, Biyikoglu will oversee management of the full suite of RMS products including; models, software, platform, data and analytics.

Biyikoglu will report to CEO Karen White and serve as a member of the RMS executive committee.

Biyikoglu joins RMS with nearly 20 years of experience spearheading product management for big data, data analytics and modelling solutions with some of the world’s most successful technology companies.

He most recently served as the vice president of product management at Databricks. Before this Biyikoglu was vice president of product for Redis Labs. He has also held prominent product management positions at the likes of; Microsoft, Couchbase and Twitter. For almost a decade, he was product leader for Microsoft’s Azure Cloud Platform and suite of SQL Server products.

White commented: “Cihan is one of the best product executives in the technology industry. He has a distinguished track record of bringing innovative, quality products to market that win high praise from customers and achieve terrific commercial success. Cihan is deeply technical, an innovative thinker, and is incredibly customer focused. He has the rare ability to drive great products to market through his understanding of how technology can best serve the needs of customers in new ways. We’re excited to have Cihan on the team.”

Of his appointment Biyikoglu shared: “Over the last few decades, RMS continues to dominate the market in catastrophe risk modeling. RMS solutions are essential to an industry dependent on data-driven solutions for growth and risk management. I have followed RMS over the years as I worked on numerous big data analytics, cloud and machine learning and artificial intelligence platforms that have disrupted the legacy models. I am excited about the opportunity to shape the future of insurance and risk through combining the core risk skills RMS has with new experiences and solutions to improve the way business is done.”

Aon appoints new global head of life for reinsurance business

Aon’s Reinsurance Solutions business has launched a new life practice group and appointed Colin Dutkiewicz as global head of life.

Dutkiewicz will be based in London. He will report to Nick Frankland, UK CEO of Aon’s Reinsurance Solutions business, who has executive committee responsibility for the new Life Specialty practice.

Prior to joining Aon in 2015, Dutkiewicz was a director in the life and health business management team at Swiss Re. He was also a life actuary for 20 years and has experience supporting large global reinsurers.

Frankland commented: “Low interest rates are hindering life insurers’ ability to yield sufficient returns, while they navigate IFRS, Solvency II and Brexit in a challenging market environment,”

“This means we have an exciting opportunity to support clients through our analytics, product innovation and the advantages of broker advocacy.”

Andy Marcell, CEO of Aon’s Reinsurance Solutions business, shared: “The formation of this new global specialty practice demonstrates and underlines our belief in the changing dynamics of the life market and the objective value a broker can bring.”

“It further supports our strategy of building our specialty practices to better link our resources around the world.”

IGI appoints Garrity as CEO, Labuan office

International General Insurance Holdings Limited (IGI) has named Nick Garrity as CEO if its Labuan office, based in Kuala Lumpur.

In his new role, Garrity will be tasked with bolstering the firm’s Asia Pacific offering, within a planned growth strategy from the (re)insurer’s Kuala Lumpur office, which is to be the firm’s hub for expansion across the Asia Pacific region.

Garrity brings 28 years of industry experience to the role. He joins IGI from Swiss Re Corporate Solutions in Singapore, where he was head of sales for Asia Pacific.

Prior to Swiss Re Garrity worked at Royal Sun Alliance, and has held both CEO and chief operating officer (COO) positions at Lockton Companies. He has also held roles at Willis and Marsh.

Wasef Jabsheh, CEO at IGI commented: “In Nick, IGI has identified a proven industry expert, who will be able to provide immediate strong leadership and strategic direction to the Group’s plans for growth in Asia.”

“In the reinsurance space we have grown organically by attracting top talent, and Nick’s expertise in generating growth by creating and retaining high calibre teams in cross-cultural environments will be key to IGI further building scale in Asia.”

Garrity added: “IGI has a clear vision for growth on an international scale and in Asia. I’m looking forward to working with an outstanding team and helping IGI expand its profile in Asia and enhance its global and entrepreneurial operation.”